I attended Northern from 84-88. I love hockey, and I had season tickets all the way through my years as a student in Marquette. Student support was abysmal during that time. Of course, as the team got better, (leading to 1991), attendance improved, but I never had the feeling that a large percentage of students supported hockey at Northern. I know for some students it was the cost, and I don't recall the athletic department cutting students any slack, and it doesn't sound like that got any better. I really feel, however, that this new conference is going to continue hurt hockey at Northern and in the UP. We, as fans, not students, would get jacked when Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Minn Duluth would come to town. Never saw a Michigan or MSU at Lakeview, but that was a big deal. The reality is big name schools don't have to come up to the North to play us, and their unwillingness to do so actually makes them better (recruiting).
The reason I loved college hockey so much was big school-small school, didn't matter, we could play with anybody. This conference re-alignment was all about the big schools squeezing out the small schools so the games shift to larger fan venues, which is not going to happen in Marquette. I wish I could say the future looks bright in the UP for hockey, but the big hotshots don't have to play us anymore. Kinda tough to recruit a Hoby Baker candidate with that reality.